Western Sydney Wanderers will step up their plans to re-sign Shinji Ono after his match-winning performance against Melbourne Victory.
Ono scored two breathtaking goals in either half of Tuesday’s match as the Wanderers moved up to third on the A-League ladder courtesy of the 2-1 win at Parramatta Stadium.
After taking time to settle in Australia, the 33-year-old midfielder is now the form player of the competition and is finally adding goals to his exciting build-up play.
And the Wanderers will now look to secure Ono for another season before rival clubs come circling.
The former Japan international has a clause in his deal to keep him at the club for a second season and the Wanderers are reportedly close to taking up that option.
“He’s a special player and he’s been a special player for this football club since he first arrived,” Wanderers coach Tony Popovic said after Ono’s heroics against the Victory.
“We’ve seen from the first moment he got here the talent he has, it just took time for him to get his match fitness to a level where he can do that for longer periods.
“We’re delighted for him. He’s a great player, a great man and a perfect fit for this football club.”
While Ono will get most of the plaudits, it was another exceptional team effort from the competition newcomers.
The Wanderers have beaten high-flyers Adelaide and the Victory in their last two home games but now face an even bigger task, with league-leaders Central Coast heading to Parramatta on Sunday.
While the club’s five-game unbeaten run has many talking the Wanderers up as title contenders, Popovic played down their chances of winning the championship.
“Not now, not after 14 games,” he said.
“I’d struggle to hear any (manager) say they can win it and it’s still showing that everyone’s beating everyone.
“We’re in a good position at the half-way mark but we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
The Wanderers will be sweating on the results of scans on Wednesday for striker Dino Kresinger, who left the field with a knee injury in the second half.
Key midfielder Aaron Mooy will be available to face the Mariners after serving a one-game ban against the Victory.